BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho State Historical Society, as part of its mission to preserve and promote state history, is encouraging Idahoans across the state to share personal stories about how they are coping and adjusting to life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The goal of this digital collection project is to gather as many of the thoughts, experiences and stories of Idahoans as the pandemic unfolds in real time.
"When we look back at this pandemic 100 years from now, we really want to be able to tell the story of everyday people, and those stories will really help complement any records that we collect from government agencies or entities throughout the state so that it has a personal perspective," said Idaho State Historian HannaLore Hein.
According to Hein, the experiences of those who may be dealing with trauma, health or economic hardship, and the disruption of daily routines during this historic moment are essential to helping the agency, historians and Idahoans remember and better understand the impact of the pandemic.
“There is also an opportunity with this project to provide that sense of community that people crave during a time of crisis. It’s our hope that providing a platform for citizens to share stories can in some way bring us all closer together during this difficult period,” Hein said. “From a purely historical standpoint, it’s our hope that these stories can provide historians, looking back 100 years from now, an authentic glimpse into this chapter of Idaho history, and to better understand the fears, loss, grief, resilience and spirit of community that is now defining the way in which we’re all living.”
The Historical Society has set up an online form to make it easy for story submissions. Idahoans can submit their narratives here.
"We want to have stories from Rathdrum and Idaho Falls and from Silver City and far stretches of the state because we know that this pandemic is not just affecting the staff of the Idaho State Historical Society here in Boise, but it's really affecting everyone statewide," said Hein.
Hein said collecting these narratives also serves a fundamental mission of the Idaho State Historical Society to continue to preserve and protect Idaho history. The agency will add the stories and reflections submitted during the crisis to the agency’s records collection, housed at the Idaho State Archives.
Last month, the Idaho State Historical Society closed public access to its facilities due to public health concerns with the spread of COVID-19. The temporary shutdown includes the Idaho State Museum, the Old Idaho Penitentiary and programming and events.
In an effort to provide public access during the pandemic and shutdown, the agency is encouraging the public to check out the programming and resources now available online. This includes digitized collections, student and teacher resources, video, and more.